ALBANY – On Wednesday, a grateful mother of a baby born with a congenital heart defect presented Sen. Bill Larkin, R-Cornwall-on-Hudson, and Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, D-Forestburgh with the American Heart Association’s Legislators of the Year Award. The Hudson Valley legislators co-sponsored the Pulse Oximetry Bill which ensures that every newborn baby will receive a pulse oximetry test prior to hospital discharge.
Jennifer Corcoran Conway of Delmar knew her son Aedan would be born with a congenital heart defect, and was able to take the proper measures to put him on the path to a long, happy life. Corcoran Conway presented the awards to Larkin and Gunther.
Patti Stone of Congers didn’t know her daughter would be born with a congenital heart defect. Samantha lived just 50 days. That simple test might have saved Samantha Stone’s life.
Both women worked hard as volunteers with the American Heart Association last year to pass the Pulse Ox Law, which went into effect in January. The simple, low-cost test measures blood oxygen levels in babies and can help identify congenital heart defects before the baby leaves the hospital.
"I am humbled and honored to receive this award," said Larkin. "I would like to thank the American Heart Association and the children and parents impacted by congenital heart defects for their tireless work on behalf of the Pulse Oximetry legislation. Your support and encouragement was instrumental to this legislation becoming law and I thank you for all you have done to ensure the safety and well-being of newborns across New York State."
"As a nurse and as a mother, I know that passing this legislation meant saving babies’ lives," said Gunther. "The American Heart Association has been a great partner and tremendous advocate. I’m proud to have worked with them and every family on behalf of our newest New Yorkers."
"Approximately 1 in 100 babies is born with a congenital heart defect," said Bob Elling, a paramedic instructor at Hudson Valley Community College and a member of the American Heart Association’s New York State Advocacy Committee. "While the Pulse Ox test can’t repair a congenital heart defect, it can indicate a problem, which means early intervention, and hopefully a long and happy life for these babies. Thank you, Senator Larkin and Assemblywoman Gunther for sponsoring this lifesaving legislation."
The American Heart Association invites residents to join their volunteer advocacy network online at www.yourethecure.org .